When did you first hear this album, and what were your first impressions?
I was 14 years old and, at that point in his career, Michael Jackson was still ‘just a weirdo who made awesome music’. I loved some of the songs so much that I probably wore the record out in places. It’s one of the last ‘pop music’ albums I bought before I began turning into a full-on moody teenager with long hair and a hatred of anything that wasn’t written by U2 or The Cure.
Why did you choose this album?
The idea that the badly dressed, effeminate, skeletal figure of Michael Jackson that appears on the front cover was meant to be ‘BAD’ (or in any way threatening) always made me chuckle. I therefore felt compelled to change it.
If you had to suggest one track from it, which would it be (and why?)
The title track is obviously a classic – but Smooth Criminal is probably my fave from the album. Having said that though, I might just like it the most because of the video (which features MJ as a tough gangster who kicks ass [and shoots people dead] ] in a nightclub). There are some snazzy outfits, awesome dance routines (including the ‘leaning’ move) and, most importantly, there’s a really long music break in there where he just does a load of odd poses and shouts ‘oooooooooooooohhh’ and ‘aaaaaaaaaah’ a lot. It’s priceless.
What is your favourite album cover(s)?
When I was a kid I used to rifle through my parents’ records and always remember being totally in love with ‘Woyaya’ by Osibisa. The cover opened out to reveal a double-width, fantasy landscape painting that featured a dangerous looking, giant, red elephant with dragonfly wings. It was literally the coolest thing I’d ever seen.
As for the albums I owned myself, my favourite was probably On a Bus by INXS. There’s just something about the busy little figures that I enjoy!
What is your favourite cover version?
Ooh, tough one. I like KD Lang singing Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah (the live version is immense), U2 singing Unchained Melody (a song covered by many – but made famous by The Righteous Brothers), Johnny Cash singing Nine Inch Nails’ Hurt, Joe Cocker’s version on the Beatles’ With a Little Help from my Friends – and, in weaker moments, even love Birdy’s cover of Skinny Love by Bon Iver. This list could go on and on – so I’d best stop there.
What is your own personal theme song?
If the album you chose was to soundtrack a comic, what would it be?
Oh god, I dunno. Perhaps an Image comics title from the early 90’s that featured an odd superhero team? Many of the album tracks have names that would suit superheroes – so I’m thinking it’d work perfectly (Quick! Someone design a team that includes Speed Demon, ‘Liberian Girl, Dirty Diana and the Smooth Criminal’!)